City 'just another game' to Lambert
Published 01/03/2014 | 15:32
Paul Lambert will not risk falling "flat on his face" by attaching extra meaning to Aston Villa's clash with his former club Norwich.
The Scot left Carrow Road acrimoniously in 2012 to take over at Villa Park and has repeatedly insisted he wants to put that period firmly in the past.
Lambert, who is unbeaten against his former club with three wins and a draw in all competitions, insists he bears "no grudge" against the Canaries hierarchy.
"It's just another game," he said ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park.
"If you go down that road of prioritising what game is more important than another I think you end up flat on your face. It's just another game for me.
"I've been involved in too many of them now. The first one (is different), maybe, going back to Carrow Road when you don't know what people are thinking. But I've had a few now and it's just a game that we'll go and try to win."
Lambert added: "I think circumstances dictate certain things. I had a great three years there. I had a group of lads who were so close to each other and so good together and performed incredibly.
"You inherit a group of lads, start to change one or two and it became stronger and stronger. The crowd and the lads bought into it and we got promotion twice, which was great.
"I had a great group of guys there who were 100% right on it and became so close. The dressing room was so tight with each other. Nothing ever got leaked out or broke the bond, really.
"If you ask me who achieved the success at Norwich, it was the players. My staff and I were a little component in it.
"But the players are the ones who deserve the credit for doing what they did."
Lambert insists the bitter nature of his departure is no longer an issue.
"I never look back on it," he said.
"It's gone. What happened happened and I don't hold any grudge with Norwich City. It's not something I think about anymore. It's gone."
Russell Martin feels Norwich have shown they "mean business" in the battle to stay up and will be out to produce another big result.
The Canaries put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone with a much-needed 1-0 win over Tottenham at Carrow Road, which eased the pressure on manager Chris Hughton following an alarming run of form.
And defender Martin is confident finally getting the rewards for hard work can act as a catalyst for the end-of-season run-in.
"In the past few weeks we have not got what we deserved, so to finally get a result against a team like Spurs is a big result for us," Martin said on Canaries Player.
"Hopefully that can give people the belief that we mean business, especially at this time of the season."
With Villa being managed by former Norwich boss Lambert, there is always an extra edge to the fixture.
Martin, who is now the club captain, feels it is about time the Canaries finally got one over the man who guided them up from League One back into the Premier League.
"We should have won at Villa Park last season and the Capital One Cup game at our place for 60 minutes there was only one team in it and it all fell to pieces somehow," Martin said.
"This season was the one when I felt we had chances and played well, like Cardiff City at home, and the only difference was Villa nicked a goal.
"We know they have that threat on the counter so that is one to be wary of.
"It is about us. We will try and dictate and play at the tempo and with the style we want."
Norwich are waiting on diagnosis from Leroy Fer's hamstring injury, so fit-again midfielder Jonny Howson could come into contention, along with Wes Hoolahan, who was the subject of a January bid from Villa.
Former Norwich captain Grant Holt, meanwhile, could face his old club, whom he left Norfolk for Wigan last summer, before heading to Villa on loan in January.
Scotland international Martin, though, would relish the opportunity of facing his former team-mate, who has been used mostly as a substitute by Lambert.
"It will be good to have a catch up and to see him, but he plays for Aston Villa and I play for Norwich so during the game that friendship means nothing," Martin said at a press conference.
"I am sure he will try the verbals beforehand and I would expect nothing less, but I would like to think I have better banter than him."
Martin added: "It will certainly be different playing against him, but we need to stop him doing what he does best and what he produced on numerous occasions for us.
"I wouldn't have any problem if I had to mark him at a set piece.
"If there is a chance for him to smash me and vice versa we'd both enjoy that, but I don't want him to score, or anyone for that matter, whether it's (Christian) Benteke or (Gabriel) Agbonlahor. I want us to keep a clean sheet and win the game."